The end of a long school day. Your daughter had two big tests and tryouts for a play. You lay a reassuring arm across her shoulder and—wait a minute, what’s that smell? Or she takes her sneakers off and props up her feet on the coffee table. Can that odor be coming from your darling’s toes?
It can. When your daughter enters puberty, her androgens rise. These hormones cause changes that produce a mix of bodily odors uniquely her own. She begins to smell like an adult.
Because body odor is one of the earliest signs of puberty, it sometimes takes parents by surprise. You’ll probably encounter it when your daughter is as young as a fourth- or fifth-grader, around the time she experiences breast budding and her first underarm and pubic hair appears. Think of your daughter’s pungent odor as a signal, a reminder of the ongoing conversations you need to have with her about her changing body.
When you talk with your daughter, try not to separate body odor from other aspects of puberty. Girls tend to feel self-conscious about the changing odors of their bodies, so simply talking about that one thing may embarrass her.
On the other hand, talking about all aspects of becoming a woman is a conversation to which you can bring excitement and anticipation. For example, you might also talk about buying her first bra, or the fact that in a year of two she can expect her first period.
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